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HomeminewsRetina Signals ADHD, ASD

Retina Signals ADHD, ASD

The eyes may signal neurodevelopmental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to new research from Flinders University and the University of South Australia, in partnership with McGill University, University College London and the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.1

In the first study of its kind, researchers found recordings from the retina could identify distinct signals for both ADHD and ASD, providing a potential biomarker for each condition.

Using an electroretinogram (ERG), researchers found children with ADHD showed higher overall ERG energy, whereas children with ASD showed less ERG energy.

Research optometrist at Flinders University, Dr Paul Constable, said preliminary findings indicate promising results for improved diagnoses and treatments in the future.

“ASD and ADHD are the most common neurodevelopmental disorders diagnosed in childhood. But as they often share similar traits, making diagnoses for both conditions can be lengthy and complicated,” he said. “Our research aims to improve this. By exploring how signals in the retina react to light stimuli, we hope to develop more accurate and earlier diagnoses for different neurodevelopmental conditions.

“Retinal signals have specific nerves that generate them, so if we can identify these differences and localise them to specific pathways that use different chemical signals that are also used in the brain, then we can show distinct differences for children with ADHD and ASD and potentially other neurodevelopmental conditions.”


Alambiaga-Caravaca, A.M., et al. (2022) Topical Ocular Administration of Progesterone Decreases Photoreceptor Cell Death in Retinal Degeneration Slow (rds) Mice. Pharmaceuticals. doi.org/10.3390/ph15030328.